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Dispute Over Satellite Puts the Spotlight on Brazil's Broadband Promises

04/20/2018 - 10h48

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NATÁLIA PORTINARI
FROM SÃO PAULO

The main promise of the Brazilian Federal Government related to plan 'Internet para Todos' (Internet for All), published at the end of 2017, is a Telebras satellite which cost R$ 2.7 billion (US$ 800 million) and has not been used since June 2017, when it went into orbit.

After an auction which failed to attract interested parties, in October 2017, Telebras was about to close an agreement with Viasat (USA), a company which would finally install ground equipment to use the SGDC (Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite).

Competitor Via Direta, from Amazonas, however, took the agreement to court in March 2018. The company says it was also in the dispute to operate the satellite, and that the invitation to bid established the participation of at least three companies; Via Direta requests such provision to be maintained.

The Brazilian Law of Government-Owned Companies states that, in the event of a failed auction, the no-bid agreement must follow the same conditions of the previous invitation to bid – now, the government needs to prove this is the case of the partnership with Viasat. Meanwhile, TRF-1 (Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region) has suspended the business and requested to review the agreement, which is currently confidential.

According to government, the satellite will serve thousands of schools and hospitals. "About 500 pieces of equipment are ready to be installed and waiting for authorization in order to provide high-quality broadband access to the rural area of Roraima", says Telebras.

Translated by ANA BEATRIZ DEMARIA

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